Footed Bowl (Tazza)

Artist/maker unknown, Italian

Made in Venice, Italy, Europe

c. 1500

Colorless glass with applied threads of blue glass

6 1/4 x 11 1/8 inches (15.9 x 28.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 251, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1970

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Additional information:
  • PublicationGlass

    This gracefully footed bowl epitomizes Venetian glassmaking at its best. The simple, well-balanced form together with the subtle lines and variety of the mold-blown ribbing and applied threading are characteristic of the plastic style of Venetian glass. If decoration were added to objects such as this, it was usually by painting with fusible enamel colors, sometimes with the addition of gilding, or occasionally with gilding alone. Originally, there may have been such a band of gilding between the two uppermost blue-glass threads on this bowl.

    The Venetians developed a clear, soda-lime glass, which fused readily to a liquid consistency and lent itself to blowing, molding, and furnace-side manipulation, solidifying quickly to a light, thin-walled, somewhat brittle, body. The descendant of Roman glass, it was made from silica in the form of ground quartz pebbles, its melting temperature lowered by the use of an alkaline flux, in this case the soda-concentrated ash of certain seaside plants. Although impurities in silica (such as iron) tend to give glass a greenish hue, the Venetians had rediscovered the art of decolorizing it with manganese, a process virtually lost during the Dark Ages. Perfected by the fifteenth century, Venetian clear cristallo glass was technically far in advance of the glass of other European countries, where it was imported and highly prized as a luxury. Venetian glass maintained its supremacy until the end of the seventeenth century. Betty Elzea, from Guides to European Decorative Arts: Glass (1984), p. 6.

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